T Dog’s Think Tank: The month of August was so on-brand for Chicago

 

White Sox debacles, news crews getting robbed spotlight tremendous failure of city institutions

If you were a kid in the 1970s or 1980s perhaps you remember a commercial for Resse’s Peanut Butter Cups when someone got peanut butter into their chocolate, and vice versa. 

So what happens when the problems of sports’ worst-run franchise mashes up with a problems of the city dealing with gun violence? You don’t get a tasty piece of candy, you get an awful mess and one that’ll stick your head into a toilet if you digest it.  

On August 25, two people were shot at Guaranteed Rate Field during a White Sox game as at first, no one seem to know where the shots came from or if the shots came inside or outside the ballpark. The White Sox canceled a post-game concert as police conducted an investigation, eliciting boos from those who cared to show up. But neither the team, the city, or the Police department were forthcoming with any answers on what happened. When Mayor Brandon Johnson was asked Monday about the shooting – like the White Sox, he danced around the question, even pulling away the superintendent when a reporter asked him one. 

That is, when the media asks anything worthwhile. While the Tribune and Sun-Times published inane pieces about Friday night’s shooting boasting they’re holier-than-thou than the Mayor, CPD, or the White Sox when it comes to accountability, the local media basically failed to question those they are supposed to hold accountable as they seem to be just as clueless themselves on what happened as one veteran sports reporter claimed to solve the mystery with this tweet. And all of this comes as a news crew belonging to Univision’s WGBO was robbed on the Near North Side Monday morning as a crime wave has engulfed the city, bringing yet even more unflattering national attention to Chicago which by now, is used to. 

If you read this blog over the years, then you know how much this space has railed against the people who run this city, the media, and our sports teams in piece after piece after piece after piece after piece (and believe me, there’s more), tarnishing the city’s reputation in the process – and hell, we’re going back to 2007 on this. For the White Sox, this capped a month when they saw their star player getting laid the F out by a Cleveland Guardian; firing GMs Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn; mentioning they may be leaving Guaranteed Rate one day, possibly for Nashville; and of course having the fourth worst-record in baseball, owned by a 87-year old man who should be in a nursing home watching Gunsmoke reruns all day (and this was proven Thursday with his stupid press conference.) But when you’re a billionaire, you can cheat death as many times as you want, as long as you want – so much for if you want Donald Trump or Elon Musk to go away anytime soon. 

Then there’s city government and the Chicago Police Department, who weren’t forthcoming with answers either. Mayor Brandon Johnson has spent 100 days in office only to see crime increase by nearly double digits as the city in cloaked in its worst crime wave since the early 1980s. But of course, we’re used to failures at City Hall no matter who is on the fifth floor – hell, the person might as well be Jerry Reinsdorf – or the guy who whored his way up the pop charts singing Rich Men North Of Richmond. Those fears were cemented in a recent Gallup stating Chicago is the second least safe city in the country, barely ahead of Detroit and a group of sports business executives ranked Chicago a low ninth last March in a survey conducted by Sports Business Journal on what best sports cities to do business. 

And then there’s the holier-than-thou attitude of the media, “demanding” answers as stated by one local newspaper even thought from this person’s vantage point, didn’t see anything like that at all and couldn’t even get their stories straight. While one local station was on the story Friday night during the 9 p.m. hour, another station – you know, the one you can’t see on DirecTV right now because of one of those silly retrans disputes – had some feature story airing (it was inspirational, but couldn’t it wait?) When there really was “breaking news” – which is a joke of a term now in journalism, it was nowhere to be found. And the Chicago news media knows it all too well.  

Despite the Chicago area successfully hosting numerous concerts, the NASCAR Chicago Street Race (which likely won’t be back), and the BMW Golf Championship at the Olympia Fields Country Club – all to rave reviews, it’s the negative stories that sells – after all, “if it bleeds, it’s leads”. Despite their bad record, it’s the White Sox nonsense that’s been dominating headlines this month, much to the chagrin to MLB – and the Cubs, who actually have something to play for as they are in a playoff race.

The news crew getting robbed also made national headlines, but chalk it up to cutbacks at the corporate level, as the Hollywood studios who own the network owned-and-operations are slashing everything in sight in order to throw more resources to streaming (and of course, refusing to pay their actors or writers as they are still on strike.) Even Disney Chairman Bob Iger feels owning a network and local stations in “deteriorating blue-state cities” while linear TV is deteriorating itself isn’t worth it anymore, despite the ABC O&Os being the most successful station group and ABC 7 being the top-rated local station in town as he wants to sell them. Even Iger wants out of Chicago and he doesn’t even live here. 

So what happened over the last few weeks is really on-brand for the city as residents seem to grow frustrated with leadership in every aspect of our institutions here (after all… failure at anything and everything is “The Chicago Way”), and you wonder how much patience Chicagoans really have left as they may head for the exits joining others who already done so. But those who do might unexpectedly see the White Sox and Disney in the moving van with them. 

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